When Russ Whitehurst Goes Pagan!

Russ Whitehurst turns in an interesting essay on innovation in education that’s well worth your time (pdf).   It gets at the innovate or induldge issue and the different kinds of innovation and ways to think about it. 

3 Replies to “When Russ Whitehurst Goes Pagan!”

  1. Whitehurst is right: “It is hard to generate excitement around the gradual improvement of work-a-day processes. Yet there is a lot of evidence…that successful organizations outside of education achieve high levels of performance because of a commitment to exactly that type of process improvement.”

    Staff in our school have long discussions in our school on:

    *How to squeeze 20% more productivity out of silent reading time, by front-loading the first two weeks of school with heavy staffing; pulling out kids who don’t stay focused in larger setting, and then putting those kids in small read-aloud groups in other rooms – thereby preserving order and quiet.

    *How to help teachers grade homework more efficiently, combined with a better homework detention, that this year has raised completion rates from about 85% to about 91%.

    *How to streamline teacher hiring requiring sample teaching component earlier, thereby saving the time of our current teachers. That is, more candidates get knocked out (b/c they struggle in front of the kids) before they even get to meet our current teachers.

    *How to reduce absenteeism in Saturday Academy by Friday afternoon reminder calls.

  2. GGW,

    You’ll be glad to know that your ideas, along with Whitehurst’s, were passed on to our superintendent so maybe they will be helpful.

    I clicked to your school’s site, and it looks good to me. This is what I don’t understand. I’ve never questioned the quality of work you guys do in charters or the good you do for kids. I don’t understand why neighborhood school teachers attack you guys.

    But neither do I understand why you don’t realize that the challenge of neighborhood schools is recognizably tougher. We’d love to have the power to try your silent reading approach of pulling out the kids who aren’t focused.

    You’ve got neighborhood schools as alternatives for your kids who resist. Why not join us in creating high-quality alternative schools, charters and otherwise, so we have some of the same chances that you do?

  3. Whitehurst explains the differences in the innovation theory as they apply to working classrooms. The use of labels effectively distinguishes between the approaches that are being taken by all schools for general improvement as well as NCLB requirements. I enjoyed this perspective as there was detailed clarification and examples to create a realistic image of how various new methods affect and judge schools’ effectiveness. We cannot assume that all innovation involves the creation of completely new methods of teaching. Sometimes, innovation can be as simple as working with what we have in a different manner.

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